Tag Archives: college

Hidden Changes

One aspect of Greek life on college campuses, often perpetuated by the media and pop culture, is hazing.

California State University, Northridge, has created a very strict “Non-Hazing Agreement” for fraternities and sororities. It reads, in part:

All organizations and clubs must obey the CSU code of conduct which defines hazing as any method of initiation or pre-initiation into a student organization, or student body, which is likely to cause physical harm, personal degradation resulting in physical or mental harm to any former, current, or prospective student.

But CSUN students have differing opinions on whether or not fraternities or sororities follow this agreement.

“…I particularly made sure that no hazing was involved at all [in the fraternity I joined],” said CSUN student Mauricio Romo. “I was at first sketchy when I joined as a brother, but then I noticed … there is no hazing. I don’t understand why they would haze. I never understood the topic. I’d see that other fraternities haze, but I never understood why you have to haze somebody if someone joined for the same purpose you are.”

“…there are communities that say that they don’t haze, but I’ve experienced hazing firsthand,” said CSUN student and sorority alumna Leah Cohen, “and so have people that I’ve talked to, and even most recently I’ve had people coming to me that have complained about those particular issues, so I do not think that the Greek community at CSUN has been adhering to the hazing policy that has been put in place for them.”

Hazing was a problem at CSUN in the past. A 19-year-old student named Armando Villa died as a result of a hazing incident almost three years ago.

“Armando’s death really affected me because we were on the same swim team, so we knew each other,” Romo said.  “I’d known him since middle school. I talked to him in high school. The last semester of senior year we all talked about how we were going to go to CSUN and join a fraternity. When Armando’s death happened, it hit me. I was like, wow, someone I knew passed away for a stupid reason.”

Although not all hazing at CSUN, or other college campuses, ends in tragedy, hazing of any kind can have lasting social or psychological effects on people.

“These organizations are communities of individuals,” CSUN Sociology Professor Ali Akbar Mahdi said, “… young people who have come together, 40 or 50, or an even larger number of them, in one compound, who do not have any blood relationship, and they do not know much about the past of each other… So, they get into very intense relationships with one another, and unfortunately one of the negative aspects of it is that it creates a sense of exclusivity, and also a sense of superiority.”

Another negative aspect can be the peer pressure that it makes it hard to speak out against hazing.

“The people who come to this organization then accept that this is going to be part of the game,” Mahdi said, “and therefore they should accept these things.”

Although Greek life is stereotyped as non-stop partying, drinking, and hazing, even its critics agree some benefits certainly exist.

“I primarily joined because, ultimately, I wanted to do something more for the community, philanthropy-wise,” Cohen said. “The goal was, whichever sorority I ended up in, to contribute to that particular philanthropy, whichever one it would be.”

To help push the positive aspects of sororities and fraternities, and to teach students the correct way to contribute to Greek life, CSUN created Greek 101 and Greek 102 classes that are mandatory for students who want to join these organizations.

“I felt that Greek 101 was very like — it could pretty much touch you, in a sense,” Romo said. “It also touched me because they also talked about Armando. From what I hear, before Armando’s death, Greek 101 was a lot different.”

“I took Greek 101 prior to what happened to Armando Villa, so my experience was that [hazing] wasn’t taken as seriously beforehand,” Cohen said. “When I experienced Greek 102 afterwards, hazing began to become more of a prevalent thing that was being discussed. It was taken a little more seriously in Greek 102, but in Greek 101 at the time it was not.”

Villa’s death has had an effect on the entire campus, and more specifically the Greek community. While hazing may still be going on, the campus has tried to minimize it.

Moderator: Shelby Charlene

Producer: Amber Partida

Anchor: Malcolm Finney

Social Media Editors: Yesenia Burgara and Abril Preciado

Reporters: Yesenia Burgara, Shelby Charlene, Malcolm Finney, Julie Nesbitt, Amber Partida, Curtis Poindexter and Abril Preciado

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50 Shades of Green

In this November’s ballot, a proposal to tax property owners as a means to better community parks, could pass, depending on voters in Los Angeles County.

Measure A proposes that voters pay higher property taxes to pay for park projects. If it passes, supporters say Measure A should bring in $94.5 million a year.

According to the Los Angeles Times, there is a large disparity in park access. Countywide, there was an average of 3.3 acres of parkland per 1,000 residents. Communities in central and South Los Angeles, southeast county areas and parts of the San Fernando and San Gabriel Valleys had the most park-poor areas.

“Measure A addresses quite a few things,” said Program Associate at the Trust for Public Land, Yadira Cerrato. “It would be providing upgrades for existing parks. It will also provide funding for future parks, help protect water sources like rivers and creeks, as well as keeping our beaches safe, clean and protecting outdoor open spaces.”

University of Edinburgh researchers suggest it is healthy to spend time outdoors. Their 2013 study found that walking in nature and spending time under leafy shade trees actually causes electrochemical changes in the brain, that can lead to a highly beneficial state of effortless attention, lower frustration and higher meditative states.

“Nature is therapeutic because it builds empathy and it improves our health,” Eco-therapist Suzannah Ferron said. “It lowers every stress marker we have: it lowers our cortisol, our blood pressure and our heart rate. It increases our sense of connection, our sense of fascination, and it builds our bio-philia…[an] innate sense of belonging to each other, to nature, to all of life.”

Many CSU campuses have Outdoor Adventures Programs, allowing students to get in touch with nature. This month a San Jose State student, who was a leader of the program, drowned while on a trip to Sequoia National Park.

“Tonight we have our trip leader meetings, so we are talking about what happened, and I have already sat down with our risk manager, HR, and my director, talking about what we can do,” said CSUN Outdoor Adventure program founder Tim Szczepanski. “We are looking at training our students at being lifeguards, wilderness first responders, and first aid and CPR-certified.”

Resources like the Outdoor Adventure program can help students and communities spend more time outdoors, but it is up to Angelinos to vote, on this upcoming November’s ballot, to decide if local and national parks will enrich the lives of future generations.

Moderator: Celene Zavala

Anchor: Delmy Moran

Producer: Brittni Perez

Reporters: Delmy Moran, Brittni Perez, Kiesha Phillips, Daniel Saad and Jordan Williams

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Catching Zzz’s

How can sleep improve your quality of life?

Experts say getting the right amount of sleep contributes to energy, productivity, memory, concentration, and overall physical health, and growing evidence suggests college students are particularly likely to skimp on sleep, not realizing the dangerous effects.

“It is very important to get sleep,” said Dr. Saimir Thano, a CSUN University Counseling Services psychologist. “It plays a repetitive role, psychologically as well as physiologically. It helps the brain create hormones that help new pathways for concentration and memory, and it sort of plays the role of a battery re-energizing our body. At times, it has been found that sleep produces certain hormones to fight common illness and help organs rest.”

A study published in the current issue of The Sleep Journal said people who sleep fewer than six hours per night are more likely to catch colds than those who sleep seven hours per night, and reach what experts call full rest.

“The goal is every night to get into REM sleep,” said REM Sleep Labs’ Angie Simon. “There are different sleep cycles, but if your body does reach REM sleep, then you’re getting that good quality sleep that you want. However if you have a sleep disorder, the sleep disorder will stop you from getting to that REM sleep.”

The first part of REM sleep lasts about ten minutes and the final part may last up to an hour, according to The Better Sleep Council. People don’t feel well rested if they don’t get REM sleep.

“The best route is to weigh out all your options and figure out what exactly is hindering your sleep and why you need assistance to sleep better,” Simon said. “The best way to figure that out is by getting properly diagnosed by getting the test done in a sleep lab.”

According to the National Sleep Foundation, untreated sleep disorders can cause heart disease, stroke, depression and diabetes.

“Depending on the person, some individuals may need more — some less — but on average research recommends seven to eight hours — nine at the most — but different individuals may need different amount of sleep,” Thano said.

‘Early to bed’ actually is good advice: experts say every hour of sleep between the hours of 9 p.m. and 12 midnight is equal to two hours of sleep after midnight.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine says the best way to increase performance on final exams is to study the day before, and then get a good night’s sleep.

“Studies have shown that those individual students that do overnighters, their GPA tends to be lower in general, and that’s because the brain needs to rest, and when it does, there are new pathways for memory and attention,” Thano said. “When you cram and do everything in one night, your brain is not able to create those new memories…It is best for students to study during the day versus the night before.”

The National Sleep Foundation has found that while asleep, people have the ability to combine different experiences in the parts of their brain that generate problem-solving skills.

“When you are getting good sleep your overall well-being is better,” Simon said. “[Sleep] makes you want to exercise, it makes you want to eat healthier, you feel better about yourself, and you are not as sluggish.”

“Everyone should use the bed only for sleep and sex, and nothing else,” Thano said. “If you’re studying in bed, or lying and just watching Netflix, then your body gets used to it, [and you say to yourself] ‘this is what I do in bed; I watch and read and do other things.’ Taking that away really makes a difference.”

 

Moderator: Anna Akopyan

Anchor: Nick Popham

Producer: Ericka Sims

Guest Booker: Ashton Smith

Reporters: Mirna Duron and Nick Popham

Social Media Editors: Nick Popham and Ericka Sims

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